In a significant development during the final Meet-the-Press session before the elections, former Prime Minister Lotay Tshering made a resounding announcement that civil servants undergoing Long-Term Training (LTT) are entitled to the recent pay hike. This proclamation has set the stage for a crucial decision that could reshape the financial landscape for hundreds of civil servants.
Disagreeing with the positions of the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) and the Ministry of Finance (MoF), Tshering maintained that the recent pay raise should indeed apply to the basic pay of those on LTT.
Insiders reveal that the Cabinet has already recommended the pay hike for those undergoing LTT, leaving the ball in the court of the RCSC and MoF. However, hurdles lie ahead as the RCSC must first amend the Bhutan Civil Service Rules (BCSR), specifically Chapter 10, Section 10.3.8.4, which currently states that a civil servant on training is entitled to basic pay.
According to sources within the RCSC, there is a favorable inclination towards granting the pay hike to LTT individuals. However, the amendment to the BCSR is only anticipated to be formalized on December 17, 2023.
A former cabinet minister emphasized the financial strain on civil servants undergoing LTT, highlighting the necessity of the pay hike. With the obligation to maintain two households, these individuals face unique challenges that merit consideration.
The road to implementation, however, is not straightforward. The RCSC must communicate the proposed amendment to the MoF, which needs to accept and endorse the changes. Discussions between these two agencies are essential to navigate the legal and financial implications arising from this unprecedented move.
As of November 3, there are 534 individuals currently undergoing LTT, with 277 located within Bhutan. Surprisingly, none of them have received the recent pay hike, as their compensation is currently limited to basic pay.
Another group of 154 civil servants engaged in mixed-mode training within Bhutan, primarily teachers undertaking training during holidays, have been receiving the full hike. This contrast raises questions about the equity of the current system.
A dissenting viewpoint suggests that some LTT individuals receive stipends, potentially resulting in higher overall compensation than their peers working within Bhutan. This has sparked a debate about the fairness of such disparities and the underlying principles of entitlement.
In response, an RCSC source clarified that only a small fraction of the 534 individuals receive stipends, specifically those on scholarships abroad.
The fate of the pay hike for LTT civil servants hangs in the balance, with the timing of its implementation remaining uncertain. As discussions unfold between the RCSC and MoF, the Bhutanese public watches closely, awaiting a resolution to this intricate and multifaceted issue.